PRESS RELEASE ON THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE UN COMMISSION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS, 21 – 25 MARCH, 2011, VIENNA
ENCOD organises a press conference with a delegation of citizens from the entire world, to comment the results of the meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Friday 25 March 2011
Income: 10:30 Hs
Start: 11:00 Hs
Place: Cafe Landtmann (Löwel Zimmer), Dr. Karl Lueger Ring 4, 1010 Wien
After 50 years, the world is ready to bury the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Encod, the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies, will send a delegation to Vienna->article2878] to [prepare the funeral.
From 21 to 25 March 2011, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs will have its annual meeting in Vienna, to evaluate the results of the worldwide strategy against illegal drugs.
In March 1961, the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was signed. For the past 50 years, the worldwide prohibition of drugs has handed the monopoly on illegal substances over to criminal groups who are greedy by nature and evade accountability and responsibility. Today, drugs are easily available to anyone, including children. They even enter prisons, also in Europe and the United States, where control systems are expected to be waterproof.
The UNODC estimates global profits of the illegal drugs industry at approx. 400 billion EUROs a year, or 12.500 EUROs a second. Some of this money is used to finance other criminal activities or even terrorist groups. But a large part enters normal financial and business operations as well as the organs of state power in many countries of the world, generating economic harm and widespread corruption .
After 50 years it is time to acknowledge that prohibitionist policies have become worthless, and can no longer serve as basis for what is misleadingly called the “global drug control system”.
There are at least three grounds to support our claim that the Single Convention has ceased to be relevant.
1. In 1961, there was little or no scientific evidence from which it could have been deducted that drug prohibition would turn out to be successful or disastrous. Although already at that time some experts and historians predicted the fatal course that we have witnessed since then, it was still possible in 1961 to honestly believe that prohibition would work as planned.
Today there is abundant evidence that use and abuse of illegal drugs have increased since 1961 and that this has been accompanied by a long list of seriously harmful “unintended consequences” that are created by prohibition. Furthermore, there is an almost complete scientific consensus on the conclusion that there is no relationship between the degree of repression and levels of drug use.
2. During the first years after 1961 there was a wide international consensus within the UN and CND. That consensus has ceased to exist. Since UNGASS 1998 the CND has become more and more divided. And since CND 2008, one can safely say there is an unbridgeable divergence of views between groups of UN member states on the direction of drug policy. Various countries have started to implement policies to reduce drug related harm and ensure human rights of people who are criminalised by drug prohibition. These policies cannot be elaborated fully because of the restrictions that result from the Single Convention.
3. In 2009, the Bolivian government made a request to amend two articles of the UN Single Convention in order to eliminate the obligation to ban the traditional consumption of coca leaves. In the Andean countries, coca leaf consumption is an integrated part of an age-old culture. Having survived for more than 5.000 years, the leaf is used until today as a food supplement, a medicine and an element of meetings and celebrations in the daily life of millions of people. It is possible to consume coca tea even in the Western embassies in these countries.
In January 2011, it turned out that 17, mainly Western, countries had objected against this amendment proposal. Their motivation has nothing to do with the nature of the coca leaf and its effects on human health, but is exclusively based on the importance of maintaining the “integrity” of the 1961 Convention. Therewith, the 17 countries implicitly admit that starting to amend the text of the convention will inevitably lead to its dismantlement. Their message to the world is that they prefer the UN Convention to be violated than to be modified or even discussed.
The United Nations should start to design an alternative strategy to control the drug phenomenon. A strategy that is built on local experiences and scientific evidence, not on moral principles that are completely out of touch with reality. As citizens of the world who are affected and concerned by the drug issue in many ways, we urge the United Nations to replace the UN Single Convention with a global agreement that will allow individual governments to design and implement their own policies.
Kurt Blaas (Austria): doctor, president of the Association”Cannabis as a medicine”
Fredrick Polak (Netherlands): psychiatrist, president of Encod
Beatriz Negrety (Bolivia): representative of coca growers
Michael Krawitz (USA): representative of Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access